DALLAS — This is what Oklahoma expected from Mike Stoops' return.
By any measure, the Sooners' defensive performance in Saturday's 63-21 win over Texas at the Cotton Bowl was dominant.
The defense didn't allow a point until long after the outcome was decided, Aaron Colvin continued to shine at cornerback and the Sooners flat-out whipped Texas up front.
“As long as we fill our gaps and execute these calls, we can be one of the best defenses in the country,” defensive end R.J. Washington said. “That's what we did and that's what kind of game we can have.
“In the first half, it's not like we had all these fumbles or all these sacks or all these interceptions. It was just we were in our gaps, make the tackle; in our gaps, make the tackle.”
The Sooners scored three defensive touchdowns in last year's 55-17 rout of Texas. This was different as Mike Stoops seemed to pick up right where he left off in the Red River Rivalry.
Before leaving to become Arizona's head coach, Stoops' final OU-Texas game as the Sooners' defensive coordinator was a 65-13 thrashing of Texas in 2003. Defensively, this one was even more dominant.
The Sooners kept Texas to just 63 first-half yards and just a pair of first downs. More than half of the Longhorns' 215 passing yards came in the fourth quarter with starters resting.
The secondary, maligned last season after repeatedly and regularly getting beat deep, has become a strength.
“It goes back to what happened last year,” free safety Tony Jefferson said. “Our confidence is up now. Our mentality is much stronger. We don't want to be a laughingstock or give up all those points or yards like last year, we we're making a statement this year.”
Comfort in the system is a big reason for the improvement, Colvin said.
“We're comfortable with Mike Stoops and we're putting our trust in him,” he said. “Sometimes last year, some stuff was hard for us and I didn't feel like guys were really as comfortable out there as we should've been. I feel like guys are very comfortable out there this year and that's why we're making plays.”
Stoops, who is now 5-1 against Texas as OU's defensive coordinator, is having an impact that goes beyond Saturdays on the field.
While players tip-toed around things when comparing Stoops and former defensive coordinator Brent Venables, there's clearly a difference in OU's defense this season.
“He stays on edge,” defensive lineman David King said of Stoops. “He'll get in your face if you mess up. He's not afraid of doing it. All you can do is respect a guy like that. He's going to tell you what you're doing wrong as opposed to always loving you up when you do things right. That the kind of (coach) he is.”